Background: Cancer incidence and mortality rates both began to decline in the U. S. in the early 1990s. Recognizing the unprecedented potential benefits of accelerating this decline, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has set ambitious challenge goals for the American public for a 25% reduction in cancer incidence rates and a 50% reduction in cancer mortality rates by the year 2015. This analysis examined the feasibility of reaching those goals by estimating future changes in cancer rates that can result from past and future reductions in cancer risk factors.
Methods: Estimates for future declines in cancer risk factors in the U. S. under alternative scenarios were applied to conservative population-attributable risk estimates for cancer incidence and mortality rates in 1990 to estimate cancer rate trends in the year 2015.
Results: If the current trends toward a decline in the prevalence of cancer risk factors continue over the next decade, by the year 2015 one can expect a 13% decline in cancer incidence rates and a 21% decline in cancer mortality rates below their 1990 levels. With redoubled efforts to reduce the prevalence of known cancer risk factors further, by the year 2015 cancer incidence rates could be reduced by 19% and cancer mortality rates reduced by 29%. Such redoubled efforts would equate to approximately 100,000 cancer cases and 60,000 cancer deaths prevented each year by the year 2015.
Conclusions: Past reductions in cancer risk factors in the U.S. population have led to recent declines in the rates of cancer incidence and mortality in the U.S. Redoubled efforts to act on current knowledge regarding how to prevent, detect, and treat cancer can result in attaining approximately 80% of the ACS challenge goal for cancer incidence rates and 60% of the ACS challenge goal for cancer mortality rates by the year 2015. New findings from cancer research are needed and will have to be applied quickly if the ACS challenge goals are to be met fully.
Copyright 1999 American Cancer Society.